Art Attack - Heather LaHaise

Heather LaHaise
Art Attack - Heather LaHaise

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Artist Heather LaHaise’s resonant work pairs realistic portraiture with modern, minimalist backgrounds to create a genre all her own. And this is exactly what LaHaise is trying to do: infuse enough abstrac¬tion into each piece so that it’s difficult to pigeonhole her work into one category or another. “I always want to show the dog, but not too much of it,” LaHaise says. “I want people to really think about and consider the dog portrayed in my work.” She does this masterfully.

A fan of the underdog, LaHaise finds inspiration from rescue sites and especially loves depicting crossbreeds in her work. “All dogs are worthy of painting and deserve a voice,” she says. “They just don’t have the same awareness that humans do and we can learn from that. If they could talk, I think they would tell us to be true to ourselves.” LaHaise has always been true to herself and recalls painting dogs already as a young child.

At that time, she was fascinated by Snoopy and would draw him whenever she could. This earned her written recognition from Charles Schultz himself. The letter of accolades and encouragement he wrote to her still hangs in her studio today. LaHaise later majored in studio art at the University of South Carolina and then moved to New York to continue her studies at the Pratt Institute.

Working with acrylics on canvas, dripping and spattering an urban sense into her work, she describes her technique as “thoughtful dis¬array.” Some of her backgrounds can have up to 20 layers. When painting a commission, though, her process is a bit differ¬ent. Working from just a few photos, it’s really important to LaHaise that her clients guide the process. She has an uncanny ability to intuit what her clients want; therein lies the extreme versatility shown in her work. From regular gallery showings to a feature article in the New York Post, LaHaise has come a long way since her Snoopy-drawing and art school days. She admits that she abso¬lutely loves her life and that she is very fortunate. When she’s not working on a commission, she’s busy painting her own pieces and being a mom to both her son and her two Pit Bull mixes, Charlotte and Justine—both rescues.

Commissions begin at $350. To contact LaHaise, visit heatherlahaise.com.

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